Hello there! My name is Heather Bruno, and I, along with the plants of course, am your teacher for the Fall Botanical Primer! I am SO EXCITED that you are here – we are going to have such an amazing adventure over the next 4 weeks!
I am named after a plant, I come from plant people and I married into a family of plant people! Good omens so far, right?
As a child I was absolutely enchanted by the green world, I delighted in making potions with plants in the fields behind our house, growing and eating them straight from our garden, and spending time soaking up their beauty in the peaceful and majestic Wasatch and Uintah mountains where I grew up.
My own plant family
My Grandma Green taught me about using plants for healing. She grew tons of aloe and would peel a leaf and apply the cooling mucilage to burns or wounds that me and my siblings came to her with. My Grandma Woods was a nurse, and from her I learned about collecting, eating and preserving what grows abundantly around you. In her case, on Puget Sound. My mom, Pepper, was my greatest plant teacher! I especially remember wildcrafting wild peppermint and pineapple weed with her, tying it up in bundles to hang and dry from the rafters in our Oregon cabin. To this day, those teas made from plants wildcrafted with my mom are the best I’ve ever had! We also wild harvested mugwort, berries, roses, yarrow, teasel…and she was an avid gardener, as well as one of the most skillful growers of indoor plants. She was always making and using natural remedies, skin care products and lavender anything was her favorite. She gave me my first herb book (it was by John Lust) and replaced it after I literally wore it out! The plants and these beautiful women were my first teachers.
Lucky me! My husband and son are plant people too! I moved to the Oregon Coast in 1990, and this is where I met my husband George-while working at a plant nursery. He is from a family of horticulturalists, ethnobotanists, arborists and phytotherapists-I definitely married into the right family! Our son Noah is a certified arborist! He is my go to person for tree ID and one of my best customers for herbal remedies!
My herbal studies and experience
From an early age I felt a deep sense of kinship with plants and explored them in a holistic and authentic way that only a child can: with all my senses and an open heart. They talked to me. In this way I began to learn about plants, their language, and to develop an understanding of our deep and ancient relationship with them.
As a young adult I began my herbal training in 1992 while living in Eugene, Oregon, when I began studying with one of the founding members of the American Herbalists Guild, Dr. Mara Levin. It was at this time that I discovered the amazing power and efficacy of plant medicine (shout out to willow and lemon balm!) and a passion for western and bio-regional herbalism which only grew as I immersed myself in the diversity of plants growing in the mountains, beaches, deserts, and lush valleys of the Pacific Northwest!
I continued to learn about plants through self-study over the years as I deepened my love story with herbalism, taking every course I can from amazing teachers and elders in the herbalist community, reading everything I can get my hands on, spending time in the field with the plants, attending herbal conferences and workshops, engaging in peer learning, trial and error (one of the best ways to learn, right? Hands on!) and of course, apprenticing with Suzanne, the MOST important and live-changing part of my education. I love her so much and feel beyond blessed to work with her. And now, I can’t believe how lucky I am to get to work with plants everyday and to share what I know with my own students!
I believe we each bring our energy into our work with herbs. There are many ways of knowing and learning about herbs. My heritage and ancestry informs part of my world view and therefore, my vitalist approach and I value the wisdom that has been passed down over the ages and incorporate this into my methods. But I also believe in science and how utilizing knowledge about our bodies and herbal constituents can help us make effective remedies!
I believe that we need only look around us to find the plants that will nurture, heal and sustain us mentally, physically, spiritually, and emotionally. These are the plants we are in community with. Getting to know these plants, intimately, where they grow, is an important part of fostering a sense of place and remembering that we are a cherished part of the natural world.
One of my main goals is to facilitate a deeper connection to the land and plants for my students, to rekindle the innate knowledge and ancestral wisdom they hold in their bones.
Each body and spirit is unique and sacred, so each person’s path will be also. My hope is to help students feel inspired to discover and embrace their own wisdom of plants and listen to what they can teach us.
It is a wonderful feeling to be able to wildcraft and grow your own herbs in order to make and share supportive botanical creations with family and friends. It makes my heart swell when my son asks me if I can send him more willow bark tincture, or cottonwood bud salve, or elderberry elixir-because it’s a testament to how well herbs work when someone asks for more. I want to share this knowledge with students so they can feel empowered to make the best, most effective herbal medicine for themselves and others, too!
The plant path is infinite, there is always something new to explore. I, too, continue to learn and grow from the beautiful relationships I have with my herb friends, both plant and human…I look forward to having you as a new herb friend too!